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Enjoy your burger at JJ!

2013-04-25 00:00:00

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When it comes to foreigner-aimed bars, downtown Daegu has a nice pool to choose from.  There does, however, seem to be a shortage of what I refer to as “mid-tempo” establishments.  Either you’re elbow to elbow with every perspiring, lubricated waygook downtown or you’re sitting in a dark basement listening to sad indie music.  If only there existed some middle ground between pulsating and drab, between sweaty and lonely, between LMFAO and Elliot Smith.  Enter JJ’s Bar and Grill.

Opened on March 15th of this year, JJ’s Bar and Grill has already seen its fan-base multiply.  There are a number of reasons for this hangout’s warm reception by Daegu bar-goers, the most obvious of which is JJ’s casual and friendly atmosphere.  Much of what makes JJ’s vibe unique is, well, JJ.  Having spent nearly 30 years in the US, JJ Chi is no stranger to what expats long for in a watering-hole away from home.  He has successfully recreated the casual hangout feel that is sometimes missing from the hotspots here in Daegu.

According to JJ, the only ‘theme’ he had in mind for his new bar was “a good place to meet people, kick back, and have some nice conversation.”  Mission accomplished.  JJ’s layout is particularly well suited to this endeavor.  Located on the third floor of what we old-timers would refer to as “the old Holy Grill”, the interior of JJ’s is as warm and open as its staff.  The wall facing the street is comprised entirely of large glass windows, allowing for a nice view of the probable weekend chaos below.  There is a bar where the drinks are served, as well as a long bar-style island in the middle of the space.  The remaining wall is lined with additional seating, darts, and two large flat-screen TVs.

The drink menu is diverse and prices are very reasonable.  JJ’s offers about a dozen different beers with Cass, Alley Kat, and Guinness available on tap.  All of your standard favorite cocktails and shots are available at prices starting at 4,000w.  Don’t let the menu limit you though; the staff speaks English and can whip up just about anything your heart (liver) desires.  JJ’s also sports a surprising whiskey/cognac selection.

Now onto the mouth-wateringly delicious cuisine.  JJ has owned successful restaurants in WashingtonState as well as Los Angeles and his experience in Western-style cooking is readily apparent.   JJ describes the items on his menu simply as “bar food”, but that label is selling this food (and the selection) short.  Whenever possible, JJ’s food is made from scratch using fresh ingredients.

To start, JJ presented us with his hot wings (only 50 cents each on Tuesday nights) which were lightly fried, generously basted in buffalo sauce, and accompanied by carrot sticks and ranch dressing.  These have the taste and, most importantly, crunchy texture of the wings back home.  Next up were the nachos–freshly fried corn tortillas topped with onions, tomatoes, Italian sausage and melted jack and cheddar cheeses.  (12,000w)  According to JJ, this is a fan favorite and when combined with his fresh homemade salsa and guacamole, it’s easy to see why.  JJ then brought us the chicken fajitas which were simple but phenomenal, with all of the familiar ingredients (peppers, onions, and tomatoes) served on a sizzling hot metal plate and accompanied by salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. (12,000w)

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Though our homesick sensibilities lead us toward the Tex-Mex style options, that is far from all that JJ’s menu has to offer.  Over a dozen other dishes are available ranging from the Chipotle Ranch Bacon Burger (10,000w), the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich (12,000w) and a number of salads and wraps.  If you’re feeling like a treat, try JJ’s superb 8-oz. Rib Eye, 14-oz. New York Steak, or the whopping 18-oz. Cow Boy Steak.  Long story short, you will not be disappointed with the food at JJ’s.  It’s also important to note that, since JJ makes his food fresh and from scratch, vegetarians and vegans are easily accommodated.

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Apart from the great food and drinks, JJ works hard to ensure his customers are having a good time.  One way he hopes to accomplish this is through weekly events.  Tuesday is “Wing Night”–wings are 50 cents (500w) each.  The bar also hosts Texas Hold’em tournaments on Wednesday nights with the winner being awarded a nice bottle of liquor or gift certificate from the bar. For the hardcore card-sharks out there, worry not; JJ knows the ins and outs of the game well having worked in Las Vegas and, more recently, as the floor manager of Daegu Casino.  On Thursday nights, the bar hosts a darts tournament.

Playing darts JJ

JJ’s opens at 5:00 p.m. and stays open until the customers are gone.  For those of you who like to party really late into the night, JJ’s begins serving “Hangover Breakfast” in May from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. on the weekends.  These potentially life-saving meals include breakfast staples such as eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, and of course bloody marys.  JJ’s is located near all of the action downtown and is very easy to find.  From the Samduk Fire Station, head toward the foreigner bar strip and take the first right.  JJ’s is located on the 3rd floor on the left.  If you’re looking for a new place to hang out, drink, and stuff your face with some awesome food, stop by JJ’s.

copyright @ Daegu Compass

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